The Competition Commission of India (CCI, the countries most powerful antitrust watchdog rejected the case against WhatsApp Pay, saying the company has not abused its dominant messaging app to expand into the country’s digital payments market.
A case in March, brought by lawyer Harshita Chawla, alleged that WhatsApp was bundling its digital payment facility – WhatsApp Pay – within its messaging app for which it already has a large user base. The case alleged WhatsApp was abusing its position by forcing its payments feature on to its existing users.
WhatsApp, in its submissions to CCI, said this was only a value-added service on top of its messaging service. “The commission tends to agree with WhatsApp that this allegation is premature,” the CCI order said.
“The commission is of the opinion that there exists no prima facie case of contravention and the information filed is directed to be closed under Section 26(2) of the Act,” it added.
In a 41-page official order made public late on Tuesday, the CCI said it did not find any contravention of antitrust laws, adding the company’s “actual conduct is yet to manifest in the market” as it has not fully launched the service yet. “As stated by WhatsApp, the number of users being served under the beta version is limited to less than 1% of its users in India.”
The order will come as a relief for WhatsApp, which is seen close to a full launch of its payments service in its biggest market by users but one where it has for months struggled to get required clearances. The Supreme Court is separately hearing cases challenging the expansion of its payment service.
In its defence, the company had told the CCI its users are not required to register for or use WhatsApp Pay in order to use the messaging service, the order said.
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